The NewsFuror

Monday, October 1, 2007

Ecuador leader claims poll win

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has claimed victory in elections for a new constituent assembly.

Official results from the vote are yet to come, but exit polls show Mr Correa's party heading for a strong majority in the new assembly.

The president hopes the 130-member body will dissolve the national Congress, which he says is corrupt and inept, and increase the power of poor people.

But critics say the reforms will focus more power in the president's hands.

Mr Correa's political opponents accuse him of wanting to turn the South American country into a socialist state.

Ecuador has thrown out three previous presidents in the last 10 years, and successive governments have been roundly criticised.

'Change in the times'

The president's party hopes to win more than two-thirds of the vote necessary to implement the changes he has promised.

Put aside hate and rancour and join in the construction of a new country
President Rafael Correa

In a speech broadcast at the start of voting, Mr Correa called for a strong mandate.

"Put aside hate and rancour and join in the construction of a new country," he said.

"This is the reaffirmation of a change in the times, the light at the end of the tunnel."

But the BBC's South America correspondent Daniel Schweimler says more than 3,200 candidates and a complex voting system has left many voters undecided or simply confused.

Among the candidates are several former beauty queens, a long-haired monk who walks the streets urging voters to take from the rich and a masked crime fighter known as The Punisher who says his face is covered because he is allergic to corruption.

There are evangelical Christians and Marxists, offering an array of measures, including a return of the death penalty and nationalising the country's oil industry.

Opening of N-market for Israel, India proposed

WASHINGTON, Sept 30: Israel is quietly lobbying to allow international transfer of nuclear technology to the countries that are regarded as nuclear weapon states but have not yet signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.
Currently, three countries — India, Pakistan and Israel — fall in this category but the Israeli proposal will only benefit India and Israel while Pakistan is left out of this plan because of its alleged proliferation records.
The 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group does not allow trade with countries that have not signed the NPT. Thus countries such as India, Israel and Pakistan are prohibited from participating in international nuclear trade, including buying reactors, uranium fuel or yellowcake.
But the United States, which has signed an agreement for sharing nuclear technology with India, is lobbying the NSG to exempt New Delhi from its restrictions. The Post, however, noted that the Israeli move may complicate the Bush administration’s efforts to win an exemption for India to engage in such trade. The administration still faces a strong opposition from the anti-nuclear lobbies as it pushes to clear the final hurdles blocking the groundbreaking agreement with India.
Using the Israeli proposal as an example, the opponents of the Indo-US nuclear deal can argue that any exception to the NPT restriction may open the gate to proliferation as other non-recognised nuclear states may also demand acceptance. Documents outlining Israel’s proposal were distributed among the NSG members in March and have circulated on Capitol Hill in Washington in recent days.
The Israeli plan offers 12 criteria for allowing nuclear trade with non-treaty states, including one that hints at Israel’s status as an undeclared nuclear weapons state: A state should be allowed to engage in nuclear trade if it applies “stringent physical protection, control and accountancy measures to all nuclear weapons, nuclear facilities, source material and special nuclear material in its territory.”
Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association in Washington, said the Israeli document could affect the debate over India. “The dynamics at the NSG are that no country wants to stand in the way of the largest country, India, and the most powerful country, the US,” he said.

‘US president should be Christian’

WASHINGTON, Sept 30: Republican presidential hopeful Senator John McCain said on Sunday that religion should play a role in one’s selection of a presidential candidate.

“I think the number one issue people should make [in the] selection of the President of the United States is, will this person carry on the Judeo-Christian principled tradition that has made this nation the greatest experiment in the history of mankind?” Mr McCain made the comments in an interview with beliefnet, a website that covers religious issues and affairs.

“I just have to say in all candour that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles, personally, I prefer someone who has grounding in my faith,” he said when asked about a Muslim candidate running for president.

However, Mr McCain contacted beliefnet after the interview to clarify his remarks. “I would vote for a Muslim if he or she was the candidate best able to lead the country and defend our political values,” he said.

“The senator did not intend to assert that members of one religious faith or another have a greater claim to American citizenship over another,” Mr McCain’s spokesman added.

Pro-West blocs 'win' Ukraine vote

The pro-Western parties of Orange Revolution leaders Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko appear to have won a slim majority in Ukraine's election.

Exit polls suggest their combined vote gives them a slender advantage over Russian-leaning PM Viktor Yanukovych.

He took 35.5% of the vote, with Ms Tymoshenko's bloc second on 31.5%, exit polls suggested.
Mr Yushchenko, the president, won just 13.5%, but is now expected to enter coalition talks with Ms Tymoshenko.

The BBC's Helen Fawkes in Kiev says the coalition horse-trading after last year's parliamentary elections took months and plunged Ukraine into political turmoil which helped trigger the latest snap poll.

Ahead of the official result on Monday, Mr Yanukovych refused to concede defeat for his Party of the Regions.

Power struggle

The snap election - the third national poll in three years - was called in an attempt to resolve a long-running power struggle between Mr Yushchenko and Mr Yanukovych, who favours closer ties with Moscow.

Mr Yushchenko and Ms Tymoshenko struck a last-minute deal before the poll to form a coalition in parliament, under which the president would make Ms Tymoshenko his prime minister.

I believe no one can diminish or deny the victory Ukraine has scored
Yulia Tymoshenko

Celebrating the exit poll results, Ms Tymoshenko, sporting her trademark braid, told reporters: "I believe no one can diminish or deny the victory Ukraine has scored.

"Everything will work out. In a matter of weeks we will hold our first government news conference."

But Mr Yanukovych refused to yield ground.

"As winners of this election - and I am certain we have won with a strong result - we have the right to form a coalition," he said.


Mr Yanukovych could attempt to form a coalition with his allies in the Communist Party of Ukraine, which won 5.1% of votes, and with ex-parliament speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn's party, which won 3.7%, according to exit polls.

But Mr Yushchenko and Ms Tymoshenko together would still have enough of seats to secure at least 226 seats - a wafer-thin majority in the 450-seat parliament, the exit polls suggest.

The pair led the 2004 pro-democracy street protests - dubbed the Orange Revolution - that swept them both to power.

But the relationship between Mr Yushchenko's party, Our Ukraine - People's Self Defence, and the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc has been fraught over the past three years.

The president made Ms Tymoshenko his prime minister in 2004, but their government was brought down by infighting.

Mr Yushchenko and Mr Yanukovych were rivals in the presidential elections of 2004.

Mr Yanukovych won the initial poll, but the result was annulled over claims of mass vote rigging.

Orange-clad campaigners won a peaceful campaign for fresh elections and Mr Yushchenko triumphed in the re-run.

But Mr Yanukovych made a comeback as prime minister in March 2006 and the two enemies grudgingly shared power.